The Freight Transport Association says that the recent debate regarding road pricing, and the variety of suggestions which were made to reduce congestion, served to reinforce the public call for more lorry deliveries to be made at night, thus reducing their impact on daytime congestion. FTA says that the publication of new Government guidance notes regarding night curfews on lorry operations should allow local authorities to improve out-of-hours delivery arrangements, to the benefit of retailers and daytime road users, without inconveniencing local residents. The need to reduce the growing level of daytime roads congestion, coupled with the continuous need to improve performance and reduce costs, makes the advance of night deliveries increasingly important.
The need for more efficient deliveries in the urban environment, and the new Delivering the Goods programme were referred to in the keynote address given to the FTA Freight Summit 2007 by Transport Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman in London on Thursday (1 March).
FTA estimates that over 40 per cent of supermarkets throughout the UK are the subject of some form of curfew which inhibits deliveries overnight, usually between 22.00 hours and 07.00 hours. FTA, which represents the transport interests of UK industry, has been working with the Department for Transport and the Cabinet Office in the production of a suite of advice aimed at both local authorities and retailers on how more night deliveries might be facilitated. This work has now resulted in the issue of two publications – 'Delivering the goods: guidance on delivery restrictions' and 'Delivering the goods: a toolkit for improving night-time deliveries'.
The Guidance publication is an easy reference document bringing together various existing regulations and is designed to assist all parties involved – local authorities, retailers, local residents etc – to arrive at mutually acceptable arrangements when negotiating the possible relaxation of an existing night curfew. FTA believes that it will assist local authorities in achieving three key targets:
” Reducing roads congestion by removing lorries from peak daytime operations
” Improving road safety
” Improving air quality by removing the stop/start nature of lorries operating in congestion
As well as bringing all of the key information together in one document, the Guidance also explains who is responsible for enforcement and what rights and duties are in place.
The Toolkit document is aimed at retailers who already have restrictions in place and contains advice on measures that they should take in order to minimise or remove the impact of any increase in lorry night operations, notably noise control. The document also provides the framework for a trial designed to measure the positive environmental benefits, reduction in congestion and improvements in road safety which will have been achieved.
FTA Deputy Chief Executive James Hookham said, 'Increasingly the public is asking our industry why it is that more goods cannot be moved during the night. The large number of night lorry bans in place is the principal reason. We believe that an open-minded approach to the new advice will benefit everybody.
'We are not looking for a total abolition of these restrictions, which we recognise is neither practical nor desirable bearing in mind the need for industry to be a 'good neighbour' to the local community and the general public. However, attitudes have changed and we feel that there is a positive case for greater flexibility in delivery times.
'Many of the current restrictions have been in place for twenty years or more. During that same period all technology has moved on, including engineering standards for lorries – quieter vehicles, fewer emissions, smoother suspensions and much more. At the same time changing customer and commercial needs in the twenty-first century require more flexibility.
'I very much hope that we can see some progress on this issue as soon as possible – more night operations for lorries means fewer day operations, good for lorry operators and good for car drivers.'